Osteoporosis is a disease that affects millions of Americans, especially seniors, each year.
Individuals with osteoporosis experience a loss of bone density; when the growth of new bone can’t keep up with the natural breaking down of old bone, bones become weaker and more brittle. Weak, brittle bones break easily and often with very little stress placed on them; a minor fall, a long car ride, or even something as small as a sneeze can break bones afflicted with osteoporosis. The spine, hips, and wrists are often the most likely bones to experience osteoporosis, but any bones can experience this type of degeneration.
Obvious, visible symptoms of osteoporosis include stooped posture, curved spine, loss of height, and frequent bone fractures. While these symptoms are the easiest to spot, osteoporosis also takes a heavy, though more subtle, toll on other aspects of life as well. Patients with osteoporosis struggle with persistent pain, the consequences of limited mobility, depression, heavy financial burdens, and even death.
For many people, especially women, osteoporosis is an eventuality. But that doesn’t mean nothing can be done to slow the progression of the disease or to maintain an excellent quality of life. Getting a definitive diagnosis and starting a treatment program early go a long way to prevent potentially debilitating fractures and to allow patients to navigate life with osteoporosis successfully.
Physicians will generally begin to test for osteoporosis in patients who are 65 and older or in patients over 50 who present with a broken bone or other osteoporosis symptoms. The most common way to definitively diagnose osteoporosis is with dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, also known as a DEXA scan. The DEXA scan produces two separate X-ray beams, one high energy and one low energy, and then measures the amount of each X-ray beam that passes through the bone. The difference between the results for each beam is the bone density score; high scores mean healthy bones and low scores mean weak bones. Low DEXA scan scores indicate a need to begin an osteoporosis treatment program.
Osteoporosis treatment programs typically include a thoughtful combination of lifestyle changes and medications that promote bone growth as well as procedures designed to treat broken bones.
it’s important to implement lifestyle changes that will promote healthy bones. Making these changes early is critical.
Doctors and patients have a variety of medications to choose from when treating osteoporosis. Drug therapies work by either promoting bone growth or by slowing bone degeneration. It’s important to understand the benefits and risks of each therapy before beginning a treatment regimen. Osteoporosis drugs fall into three distinct categories:
Regardless of lifestyle adjustments and drug therapies, bone fractures can still occur. Hip fractures often require full hip replacement surgery to restore mobility. Painful spinal compression fractures that recur frequently are often treated with vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty, minimally invasive procedures that involve injecting a cement mixture into the fractured bone directly or via a balloon to stabilize the area and prevent future breaks. Physicians and surgeons have access to a variety of tools to help osteoporosis patients heal, reduce pain, and get back on their feet again.
Osteoporosis is a serious condition. As the disease progresses and bones loss becomes severe, it’s often necessary to seek around-the-clock care. Compassionate caregivers from 24 Hour Home Care can make all the difference for osteoporosis patients. We provide specialized care for osteoporosis patients that addresses their unique needs and exceeds expectations. With assistance from 24 Hour Home Care, patients can manage their pain and get the nutrition and companionship they need to get moving again and stay mentally strong.
Living well with osteoporosis is possible. For more information about the services we provide to patients with osteoporosis, visit our website or call 800-522-1516 to talk to one of our team members.
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